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12-01-2017, 08:41 AM   #1
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Trouble Scanning Slides

So, apparently scanning slides is just much more difficult than negatives, especially in terms of dynamic range.

My scanner (Pacific Imaging PrimeFilm XA) worked fairly well on scanning my first set of slides (Using a Pentax SF-10). (See: https://ibb.co/album/mCcn5a) The key seems to be that most of these slides were on the lighter side.

On my second roll of slides (Using a Canon AE-1), I've had a lot more difficulty. This roll in particular has a lot more black, dark areas on the frames. They look great in a slide viewer. The difficulty comes in scanning. It's almost as if the scanning light isn't powerful enough to get anything brighter than midtones on this roll of slides. Quite a few of these frames are from golden hour, and/or backlit.

I've attempted to scan the same frames with Silverfast SE (That was included with the scanner), and with the Cyberview software, and I even tried with a trial version of ViewScan. None of the software captured much of the dynamic range of the slides. And when there appears to be more detail, the colors are really bad.

So, I'm rather baffled. Any suggestions on how to get some better scans?


Last edited by timw4mail; 12-01-2017 at 08:45 AM. Reason: More details
12-01-2017, 09:23 AM   #2
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Any chance it's an issue with bit depth settings of the scan or output file?
12-01-2017, 09:25 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by timw4mail Quote
It's almost as if the scanning light isn't powerful enough to get anything brighter than midtones on this roll of slides.
I'm no expert (although I've scanned a fair bit of slide film on my v700), but what you say here is pretty much exactly what I remember reading in some article by Tim Parkin, who certainly does qualify as an expert. Slide film has more detail in the shadows than most scanners can pull out. This is one of the advantages of drum scanning.
12-01-2017, 09:41 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Any chance it's an issue with bit depth settings of the scan or output file?
Doubtful. I tend to stick with the highest setting.



12-01-2017, 10:28 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by timw4mail Quote
So, apparently scanning slides is just much more difficult than negatives, especially in terms of dynamic range.

My scanner (Pacific Imaging PrimeFilm XA) worked fairly well on scanning my first set of slides (Using a Pentax SF-10). (See: Slide Scans ? imgbb.com) The key seems to be that most of these slides were on the lighter side.

On my second roll of slides (Using a Canon AE-1), I've had a lot more difficulty. This roll in particular has a lot more black, dark areas on the frames. They look great in a slide viewer. The difficulty comes in scanning. It's almost as if the scanning light isn't powerful enough to get anything brighter than midtones on this roll of slides. Quite a few of these frames are from golden hour, and/or backlit.

I've attempted to scan the same frames with Silverfast SE (That was included with the scanner), and with the Cyberview software, and I even tried with a trial version of ViewScan. None of the software captured much of the dynamic range of the slides. And when there appears to be more detail, the colors are really bad.

So, I'm rather baffled. Any suggestions on how to get some better scans?
You are going to have to accept some limits with a scanner in this price bracket, resolution, DR etc. However you should be able to get more out of the scan than you appear to be getting, assuming that there is actually information there in the first place.

If the link in your last post is anything to go by then the impression I get is that you are just scanning the slides direct without any intervention as the vast majority images give the appearance of being underexposed, lacking contrast and various colour balance issues.

Not familiar with your scanner but:

Do you use any automatic scanning setting for exposure, colour balance?
Do you first do a preview scan?
If you do preview do you adjust the histogram to make a pleasing image before pressing the scan button?

Hope its ok to take a couple of your images from the link and apply a simple curve layer to half. This is what you should be doing pre scan (including cropping) to get your image into an acceptable state. If you are doing this then something else is out of bounds
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12-01-2017, 11:13 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by TonyW Quote
You are going to have to accept some limits with a scanner in this price bracket, resolution, DR etc. However you should be able to get more out of the scan than you appear to be getting, assuming that there is actually information there in the first place.

If the link in your last post is anything to go by then the impression I get is that you are just scanning the slides direct without any intervention as the vast majority images give the appearance of being underexposed, lacking contrast and various colour balance issues.

Not familiar with your scanner but:

Do you use any automatic scanning setting for exposure, colour balance?
Do you first do a preview scan?
If you do preview do you adjust the histogram to make a pleasing image before pressing the scan button?

Hope its ok to take a couple of your images from the link and apply a simple curve layer to half. This is what you should be doing pre scan (including cropping) to get your image into an acceptable state. If you are doing this then something else is out of bounds
Yes, there is the issue of further adjusting the images after they are scanned. I did post-processing on the leaf image:



That said, the original scanned image really matters in terms of how you can process it. From the scans I'm having trouble with, there is too much shadow, which can not be brought up without significant noise and color cast.

I've uploaded an album of the raw scans (to jpeg) from CyberViewX (the bundled software) at maximum quality everything. (CyberViewX Scans ? imgbb.com)
12-01-2017, 11:42 AM   #7
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The uploaded scans are truly terrible and I cannot see how a correctly functioning scanner and scanner driver/application can produce this type of result, assuming that there is no issue in the first instance with the film.

I am not too concerned about post processing but rather about your workflow including pre processing.

Could you explain in detail this workflow please?

I have to ask these questions again as you did not reply - this is important if we are to understand your issues and offer a possible solution

1. Do you prescan and crop first?
2. Do you alter the prescan image histogram to get the best image prior to scan?

Last edited by TonyW; 12-01-2017 at 12:26 PM.
12-01-2017, 12:46 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by TonyW Quote
The uploaded scans are truly terrible and I cannot see how a correctly functioning scanner and scanner driver/application can produce this type of result, assuming that there is no issue in the first instance with the film.

I am not too concerned about post processing but rather about your workflow including pre processing.

Could you explain in detail this workflow please?

I have to ask these questions again as you did not reply - this is important if we are to understand your issues and offer a possible solution

1. Do you prescan and crop first?
2. Do you alter the prescan image histogram to get the best image prior to scan?
Generally, I'm doing a bulk scan of a full roll, or a strip.

1. I do a prescan to align the first frame, and adjust settings. Due to the fact that the scanner can feed an uncut roll through, I do not pre-crop any frames.
2. This is the first roll I've had real color trouble with, and I have not needed to adjust the histogram with other rolls.

Also, just to clarify, the (uncut, full roll) slides look good when examined in a backlit viewer, but the scanned dynamic range is horrid. CyberViewX is over-compensating for this, and creating awful color casts. Last I tried with SilverFast, all the slides looked okay, but they were just too dark, and hid a great amount of detail.

12-01-2017, 02:17 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by timw4mail Quote
Generally, I'm doing a bulk scan of a full roll, or a strip.

1. I do a prescan to align the first frame, and adjust settings. Due to the fact that the scanner can feed an uncut roll through, I do not pre-crop any frames.
2. This is the first roll I've had real color trouble with, and I have not needed to adjust the histogram with other rolls.

Also, just to clarify, the (uncut, full roll) slides look good when examined in a backlit viewer, but the scanned dynamic range is horrid. CyberViewX is over-compensating for this, and creating awful color casts. Last I tried with SilverFast, all the slides looked okay, but they were just too dark, and hid a great amount of detail.
It is my belief from what you have said that you are allowing the software to take control in some auto way. I would strongly suggest that you take full control and turn all auto in all menus off CyberViewX should not be able to over compensate if you do not allow it to.

You can only really expect decent results from bulk scanning when all images are very similar i.e. shot at the same time. These images seem to be all over the place regarding light conditions and my overall impression is that you are allowing the software to try and do the heavy lifting. There is one really bad image there with what appears to be crossed curves Magenta Highlights and Green Shadows (Pentax camera on box) something very odd there.

I would suggest that you first try with a single image so...

What happens if you follow this workflow (for the moment forget about bulk scanning and just settle on one image). Check your particular scanner options but this should be somewhere close.

1. Select film type

2. Select Prescan Current Frame

3. Set Scan settings

Resolution - suggest trying 3200 first or somewhere near it(it is unlikely you will resolve much more detail but you should test to confirm
Bit depth. Select bit depth either listed as 48 bit or 16 bit mode

4. Turn off all auto modes (Auto Exposure, Auto Balance, Auto Contrast etc.). Look in all menus for hidden auto stuff.

5. Prescan
5a. Crop

6. Image adjustments from prescan goto Curves or levels
Select and adjust each channel R G and B to a point just outside clipping black and clipping white
if required select the composite RGB to adjust overall brightness and contrast
The aim here to create a pretty much colour corrected image that may only need a little fine tweaking (if that!) in your image editor

7. Finally press the Scan button. This should scan your image including your RGB adjustements leading to an image that is suitable for minor post work
12-01-2017, 02:45 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by timw4mail Quote
So, apparently scanning slides is just much more difficult than negatives, especially in terms of dynamic range.
Any suggestions on how to get some better scans?
Shooting and getting ideal exposures with slides is much more difficult than negatives and cannot be overstated. When I shoot slides, if I do not bracket, I invariably regret it. Shooting with either controlled lighting or natural low contrast lighting helps immensely as does fill flash. With Type R or Ilfochrome prints, I could get amazing results, but negs are much more forgiving.

But if your highlights and shadows have visible details, there is hope. I use VueScan and scan both 35mm and 120 film on a Minolta DiMage Multi Scan Pro. I output to either a RAW or DNG or TIFF only. If you have tinkered with your software and are sure you've maxed out it's capability, then I'd recommend the equivalent of HDR for scanning.

Manually scan one for best mid tones. Then manually scan again but intentionally changing the settings for good highlights. And last, scan a third time with the intent to get good shadow detail. Then, I'd use Photomatix Pro or the HDR software of your choice (or manually on PS) to merge the three scans. Yes, lots of work, and probably a lot of disappointment, but this is how I'd work with a slide-scanner-software combo that isn't working with single scans.
12-01-2017, 07:46 PM   #11
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I'm not completely familiar with your scanner, just from reading about it as I was considering purchasing it to replace my old Plustek. I know the scanner can do an entire roll on its own, but it also has a single slot designed for scanning mounted slides. Have you tried to scan a single frame in this manner?

Secondly, I know the software a bit better. While I like Vuescan, Silverfast, (older versions, and as an add on for the newer) has a multi-scan feature. This allows the scanner to scan a single frame up to 16 times and combine them for the greatest dynamic range possible. While the number of times a scanner passes over a single frame will greatly increase the final scan time, I have used it on frames with a high dynamic range, and for frames that were important to me with some excellent results.
12-01-2017, 09:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
I'm not completely familiar with your scanner, just from reading about it as I was considering purchasing it to replace my old Plustek. I know the scanner can do an entire roll on its own, but it also has a single slot designed for scanning mounted slides. Have you tried to scan a single frame in this manner?
I've had and used the Minolta Dimage Multi Scan Pro since 2004. At the time, the Nikon Super Coolscan was the benchmark for anything other than a drum scanner, but the Minolta had very similar in specs, but less expensive. The Minolta has a 35mm 6-strip neg tray, a 35mm 4-slide tray, and a medium format tray for 645, 66, 67, and 69. It does not have the ability to batch scan an entire roll; only 4 slides or 6 negs in batches.

It does have ICE (Image Correction Enhancement) to reduce or eliminate dust, ROC (Reconstruction of Color), and GEM (grain reduction). I know some of these, like ICE, does multiple passes, but if it does a 16x multi scan for dynamic range, I do not know which settings will set this.
12-01-2017, 09:49 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
I've had and used the Minolta Dimage Multi Scan Pro since 2004. At the time, the Nikon Super Coolscan was the benchmark for anything other than a drum scanner, but the Minolta had very similar in specs, but less expensive. The Minolta has a 35mm 6-strip neg tray, a 35mm 4-slide tray, and a medium format tray for 645, 66, 67, and 69. It does not have the ability to batch scan an entire roll; only 4 slides or 6 negs in batches.

It does have ICE (Image Correction Enhancement) to reduce or eliminate dust, ROC (Reconstruction of Color), and GEM (grain reduction). I know some of these, like ICE, does multiple passes, but if it does a 16x multi scan for dynamic range, I do not know which settings will set this.
SilverFast SE version 8 has a multi exposure mode which does two scans. In the version 6, the multi exposure was controlled by the user, with 2,4,8 or 16 scans. Itís an add on feature for version 8 which you have to pay additional for. In this case itís software driven (although Iím not sure whether or not there are hardware requirements between brands).

In the OPs case, his scanner batch scans rolls, but has a slot in the front for scanning single, mounted slides, (plus it came with a few reusable mounts). What Iím not certain about is whether or not there would be a difference in the scan itself from the slide scanner slot as compared to the negative portion.
12-02-2017, 07:00 AM   #14
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Perhaps there is some guidance in Peter Keogh's newish book, The DAM Book Guide to Digitizing Your Photos with Your Camera and Lightroom?
12-02-2017, 10:13 AM   #15
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The problem is highly unlikely to be scanner dynamic range (or lack of it) vs the scene dynamic range. There is very little evidence to support the theory that the presented images range are outside that of the scanner at least for the majority presented so far. And again no evidence to suggest that the use of multi scan will add any IQ to the table for the vast majority of images

What seems apparent (ignoring the possiblitily of a faulty scanner) is that there is no proper compensation being applied to the scans prior to acquisition, but rather automatic settings are being relied on. The resulting images being both underexposed with odd colour casts occurring. This appears to be the case with both sets of captures presented.

Images are said to look fine prior to going to the scanner, so the assumption must be that colour contrast and density looks good when viewed on lightbox or even via a window.

The fix should be relatively simple the first cause being the scanner not giving enough exposure should be fixed by using the exposure/contrast or/and curve settings in the scanner software. Coupled with this the scan should be adjusted to get a 'correct' colour using the scanner controls - before the scan button is pressed.
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